The power of plants ...
In continuation of our inspiring women series we introduce you to Naomi, founder of Creative Roots. A lady full of soul and creativity. Living an authentic life in Cornwall with nature at the root of everything she does.
On a sunny morning in June we visited Naomi's plot of land where she grows beautiful, wild plants to create her natural dyes. It was amazing to see the power of plants first hand and to learn and understand in depth, the process of natural dying.
She really has carved out her own slice of botanical heaven. Growing for use and beauty only.
It was such a pleasure getting to know Naomi some more and having a day in her magical world.
Naomi will be hosting a Natural dye Bundle workshop at our Summer Celebration
Bundle dye workshop - Book here
Take a peek at her work www.creativeroots.earth
@naomi.creative.roots and @the_sunflower_project_Cornwall
Naomi wears our new Tallulah waistcoat and our new Joni
“In a world where there is so much destruction, violence and turmoil – drawing attention to beauty and the abundance of nature feels so vital.”
Tell us a little more about yourself
I’m Naomi – I’m a maker, weaver, planter of seeds and lover of nature. I am happiest when near water and when my hands are in the soil.
Creativity is at the heart of who I am and what I call in as work. John O’Donohue writes of the Greek word for beauty stemming from the word for calling. For me creativity is just that. A calling, a way of being in the world and a way of inhabiting life.
In a world where there is so much destruction, violence and turmoil – drawing attention to beauty and the abundance of nature feels so vital. It is a way of seeing the darkness without falling in. And so I try to make every act one that holds creativity at its core – how I hang the washing, plant my garden, make an item of clothing or cook supper for friends.
My hands are rarely still and my mind curious to learn. I love being outside and working with the abundance of nature. I weave – baskets, wool, stories. I make ink and pull drawings from my imagination. I forage from the wild hedgerows and tend a medicinal herb and dye garden. Slowly I am making as many of my own clothes as I can.
As a Creative Facilitator, I work with the alchemy of creativity, land and community. In 2016 I set up Creative Roots to share what I love with others. I run a series of craft based workshops including natural dying, ink making, foraging and weaving workshops. In 2019, I set up The Sunflower Project that has seen over 20,000 sunflower seeds planted by communities across Cornwall as a symbol of solidarity and hope. I am also the co-founder of TIDE BenowCIC which creates spaces in nature for women and girls in Cornwall. You can find out more about my work at
How did you first enter the world of natural dyes? What lead you to this path?
I have always been fascinated by plants and I have always loved making potions! In my twenties got really into foraging for food which deepened into learning about herbal medicine. Over the years I learnt to read the hedgerows and fields – to notice the plants that tell you where may flood and not to put up your tent and found the best places to gather wild medicines to turn into balms, tinctures and teas. The next part of this journey was to learn about the colours hidden in nature.
My first experience of natural dying was working with a group of boys excluded from main stream school. we built a fire, boiled water in old tins and added ‘weeds’ into each pot. Purple buddleia was submerged in the water and turned the solution bright. The process engaged and captured all our imaginations. It felt like magic – not just the colours that where made but the way it connected us to the landscape and the hidden potential all around us. For these children it also felt like a permission to learn about plants, nature and to realise not everything is what they expect. I was hooked.
For years I collected plants and experimented, I read books, asked questions and was curious. I have learnt by doing and playing. By making mistakes that have, on occasion lead to great.
“I love relationships that grow between plant and the clothes made from the dyed fabric.”
Do you have a favourite dye to work with and why?
This moves and shifts every year as my relationship and curiosity towards different plants grow and evolve. This year my fascination with Weld grows. Grown from tiny black shinny seeds smaller than the size of a pin head – this plant grows small and unnoticeable for its first year. In its second year it can grow to over 6 foot tall with delicate, tall flowers that the bees go wild for. You only take the plant after it has flowered – dying with the leaves, seed-heads and stem. I always leave some seed-heads for the goldfinches and other seed feeding birds.
Weld makes the boldest, brightest rich yellow dye. You have to make your dye pot slowly and with care as too much heat will push the colour to mustards and browns. Also beautiful. Modified with iron it makes a golden green colour. I love relationships that grow between plant and the clothes made from the dyed fabric.
To turn my phone off. To sleep in my bivi bag around a fire with friends by the river. To sing under the stars and wake to the sound of birds. To swim in wild water before the world wakes up. I love to work in the field and forage slowly collecting plants to fill my basket. And of course drinking tea with friends!
There are many combinations to make up a good day off but right now that sounds perfect!
What do you enjoy about living in Cornwall?
I love the sea and the contrasts between the wild and soft landscapes of south Cornwall. From when I was a small child I have felt a connection with this Celtic landscape. A connection I can’t really explain but which has always drawn me back and held me in its magic.
I love the creativity, my community, the people who are forging a way of working and living in a different way. I am forever grateful for being able to swim in the sea and walk on the cliffs and paths.
Plans for the year ahead?
I’m excited about making a collection of scarves for Naked Generation this summer/ Autumn and taking some new natural dye workshops beyond the Tamar to Somerset. I am running some new workshops here in Cornwall including a day course in how to make a rush foraging baskets and a four week in making your own natural drawing materials including inks, charcoal and wax crayons. There are some real treats in the pipe line!
I am looking forward to harvesting my madder roots after four years of growing and experimenting with making some clothes with those glorious reds and pinks. This truly will be slow fashion.